Spoiler alert: we’re discussing the season finale of Outlander here, and the book Voyager. Tune in next week for my interview with Outlander writer/producer Anne Kenney.
Wow, saved that CGI budget for the end, did we, Outlander? And well worth the wait it was. Seriously beautiful cinematography there for the last twenty minutes of this sucker, even if it was all computer generated.
Now let’s talk about the episode as a whole, shall we? So I have to admit, the first half of this one was a bit rough for me. And how could it not be? They literally were cramming everything that it took me three mock episodes to cover (Mock 11, 12, and 13, to be exact) into only HALF an episode here, because y’all knew the second half would be the titular “Eye of the Storm” sequence, AKA:
And yes, that sequence was GORGEOUS. But did they succeed in making the first half of the episode coherent and satisfying (especially since they had to make time for the “John Grey saves the day” scene with Jamie)?
Let’s just say they wrapped everything up nicely. I mean, we got to see John Grey one last time for the season. We got to send Yi Tien Cho (Willoughby) off with a new lady love—okay, fine, a batshit crazy lady love, but you can’t have everything. So he actually had a happier au revoir here than in the book.
Some things remained intact, as they pretty much needed to do: Claire hacked half of Geillis’s head off; Ian, Jr., was saved; Fergus and Marsali made their obligatory 30-second appearance so we can remember they’re still in this show (seriously, I hope we can work them into the plot a little more next season, Ron Moore).
Oh, and lest we forget, we made time for a six minute—count ‘em, folks—added sex scene between the two least-wrinkled 45-year-olds in history for absolutely no reason other than our own personal enjoyment in watching these two hot people get it on (and the fact that we won’t get to see them do so again until next season).
Am I complaining about this sex scene?
Yeah, neither am I.
But what were we talking about? Ah, yes, the fact that they condensed the last couple hundred pages of Voyager into a chaotic firelit night at summer camp. Honestly, I didn’t hate it, I’m just having a little fun.
The truth is that in the novel, so much of this sequence is spent tying up loose ends like: Who is the Edinburgh Fiend? Why did Yi Tien Cho betray Jamie? Did Yi Tien Cho kill the woman at the Governor’s Ball? How do you remove a loa-loa worm from a person’s eyeball?
You know, the important questions.
Here, none of those things were ever set up, so they really didn’t have to be paid off, and instead we got a lot more Geillis Duncan being bananas.
The only thing I wish they had played up more, and I did this in my Mock 12, was the moment where Margaret Campbell “channels” Brianna. It’s such a significant moment that I actually chose to cut to 1968 in my mock episode and see Brianna having a “spell,” intercut with Margaret saying her words to Claire and Jamie.
This gives us an opportunity to do two things: See Brianna again for the last time of the season, and set up season four’s adventures a bit more.
But in this episode, it was a bit of a throw-away moment, as we had to make time for the aforementioned six minutes of talky sex on the boat. (Seriously, Jamie Fraser talks A LOT for a guy who’s already convinced the woman in question to sleep with him.)
But I will say that all these concerns went out the window with that extraordinary “boat in the storm” sequence (although did anyone else wish Claire would just go below decks already? I mean, jeez, lady, your husband’s kind of busy right now. Stop screaming his name and get with the others).
Now as for the very ending, yes, they may have changed the locale and the sequence of the dialogue a bit, but I think it was a smart choice. The two of them together, on the beach, realizing that they are saved and that they crew of the Artemis has also been rescued was, quite simply, a magical moment:
And kudos to longtime writer/producers Matt B. Roberts and Toni Graphia (Roberts also directed this episode) for the decision to end the season with that swooping shot of the New World, beautifully setting up the adventures to come.
I don’t think I can sum up my feelings about the end of the novel Voyager (and now this season of the show) any better than I did a year ago in my Mock 13:
They called it the New World, verdant and vast, a place of new hope, where one could begin again. And it was always a mirage, of course. Stolen from the Indians; built on the backs of slaves. But still, hope. But still, the dream of freedom prevailed. Because it is a delicious dream, that our belief in ourselves is, ultimately, our last, best tool. The great aspiration of America—to create our own identity, whole cloth, without the burden of the past to remind us of the lives we would just as soon escape. As Lawrence Stern says to Claire, “Faith is as powerful a force as science… but far more dangerous.”
And with that, I leave you, faithful readers, with your homework for this Droughtlander season: Reading (or rereading) book four, of course! We will meet back here in a month or so to start discussing Drums of Autumn. Just follow the link for the hard copy or the ebook. (Personally, I like ebooks because they’re searchable and easy to make notes on.)
And don’t miss my sit-down interview with the fabulous Anne Kenney (writer of many Outlander episodes, including the infamous “Wedding’ episode from season one). Anne was nice enough to share with me many details of her extraordinary career in television and her work on Outlander. Look for that in the coming week.
Till then, adieu, mes amis. Remember to be adventurous, and to be kind.
And if you’re looking for Outlander-themed jewelry, here’s the link: Sassenach Jewelry